Here’s a news item that goes a long way towards convincing me that Putin will invade Ukraine: His luxury yacht, valued at $100 million, left Germany with repairs incomplete and sailed to a Russian port. Why leave in the middle of planned repairs? So Germany or the U.S. cannot seize it as part of the sanctions against Putin as punishment for invading the Ukraine
It’s getting easier to see why the U.S. intelligence folks think Puti is all in.
U.S. Troops to Poland
According to the Wall Street Journal, the pentagon will send 1,700 troops from the 82nd Airborne to Poland. These troops are not to help the Ukraine but to set up a refugee center for fleeing Americans, complete with “tents and other temporary facilities.” This is to help coordinate the evacuation of Americans who are in the Ukraine and flee towards Poland if the Russians invade.
This tells me two things: First, the Biden Administration doesn’t want another screwed up evacuation like they had in Afghanistan. Second, they must be pretty sure the Russians will invade.
Of course, if the Russians do head towards the Polish border, that “temporary facilities” being constructed there could hold lots of American or NATO troops. I can imagine planes full of American civilians flying out and then flying back 24 hours later filled with American soldiers. If this is indeed part of the plan, I have to give them credit. They are using a humanitarian mission to prepare for a military mission. That’s far more clever than saying those troops are there for an exercise.
These will not be not the only new U.S. troops in Poland. 2,000 more members of the 82nd Airborne were sent there his past weekend. This is considered a move to show Putin we have some skin in the game.
Hold Your Breath
It appears we are in that calm before the storm, that awkward pause where you know it’s coming, and it’s too late to stop it. Things seem to be inching forward in small steps while everyone holds their breath, hoping the small steps will not turn into a sudden surge.
A few decades ago, we would attack the enemy’s command-and-control systems with cruise missiles and precision-guided munitions. Then we would target their air defenses. Once the air defenses are knocked out, the bombers fly in, dropping tons of munitions designed to weaken the enemy’s war-fighting ability and their willpower.
Decades before that, waves of artillery shelling would signal the start of a battle. Similarly, battleships or cruisers might fire their giant deck guns at the enemy shoreline, softening them up for an amphibious landing.
Today, the signal that a battle is underway is more likely to be a massive cyberattack designed to disrupt normal operations than the whoosh of a cruise missile passing overhead. (Missiles and rocket attacks will be the second wave. Artillery will be the third.) If you hear that communications from the Ukraine are disrupted, go fill your gas tanks, stop by the store, and make any other last-minute preparations.
Prepare also for cyberattacks to hit the U.S. as we could be secondary targets either before the invasion or after we implement sanctions.
As I reported last week, war in the Ukraine is expected to drive up energy and gas prices. I expect it will send shock waves through the financial markets, too, at least in the short term. The markets hate uncertainty, and nothing introduces uncertainties like a war. The looming questions are: How will the U.S. punish Russia and what repercussions will that have on markets, oil, and commodities? Will China support Russia? Or will China use this distraction to increase harassment of Taiwan?
If China attacked Tawian, it would be far worse than the invasion of the Ukraine and more likely to lead to a World War.
The bulk of Europe and the breadth of the Atlantic lie between the U.S. from the Ukraine, insulating us from their problems. That is not the case in Europe, where conditions will be worse. The bickering between the EU countries about an appropriate response will make the bickering in the U.S. House and Senate look calm.
Worse, several million refugees will flow out of Ukraine into Eastern Europe. This will create a huge humanitarian problem, as well as more disagreements about where they can go and who will take them in.
I am shocked that more people have not left the country and taken most of their portable wealth with them. This is one of those classic examples where people wait too long to evacuate and then get stuck for days on a journey that would have taken a few hours before the crisis hit. Remember this lesson: If you are going to leave, leave early. If you are going to stay, prepare.
I hope that all the Ukrainian patriots have scouted areas where they can take shelter, buried their guns and ammo, and made caches of food, medical supplies and ammo. They will be more successful fighting as the resistance than on the battlefield. Hopefully there is an organized effort to give those who will become freedom fighters some clandestine logistical support and weapons they can use to harass Russians and attack their supply chains. I expect the CIA will be there funding and equipping them.
If I was in charge of the Ukrainian defense, I would have squads ready to infiltrate Russia and Belarus and blow up targets of opportunity. If Ukrainian civilians die in the invasion, then I would target Belarus and Russian civilians as well as government offices, institutions, and key infrastructure. Let those countries know their actions are not without a cost at home. I would then broadcast video of these attacks on social media so Russia cannot deny them.
When it starts, expect the invasion to go quickly, but don’t expect Ukraine to be pacified any time soon.